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Hyundai’s taken a bold step out of the conventional monochromatic automotive universe. They’ve presumptuously done a ‘Citroen’ and introduced actual vibrancy into the Kona range – 22 cumulative Kona colour combinations are available.
There’s one called Tangerine Comet and the one depicted here, called appropriately, Acid Yellow, which is actually the shade of green halfway between liver failure, and the Incredible Hulk. And – if you want – some of those distinctive colours can follow you inside.
But I’m not so sure I am passionately in love with these lime green seatbelts. One step too far, perhaps, on the ‘vibrancy’ front (in the direction of Kermit). But, you know – eye of the beholder. Thankfully, though, it’s only the ‘LSD flashback to the Sixties’ coloured lime-green Kona that gets the matching seatbelts. There are conservative options as well.
The exterior styling is bold, too – it could almost be French. (Just talking about the styling. We wouldn’t want to inflict legendary French engineering on a vehicle such as this. Nobody deserves that.)
On more objective grounds, there are three models – Active, Elite and Highlander – each with a choice two engines – a 2.0-litre atmo four with front drive and a six-speed auto, and a 1.6 turbo four with seven-speed dual-clutch and all-wheel drive. And we’ve seen both these powertrains before.
Suspension’s a surprise, too – at least it’s a surprise if you equate SUV’s with being ponderous and uninspiring. Driving a Kona – especially the 1.6 turbo – is sporty and car-like. Hyundai Oz has a small team of magicians who develop a bespoke suspension and steering tune for our uniquely crap Australian roads. They are proving very talented at this.
A space saver spare tyre is standard – and unfortunately, a full-sized spare doesn’t fit. I know they were working on a full-sized option, but that’s been given the official thumbs-down by the boys upstairs. You could probably dodgy one up – but the removable cargo floor would need to be raised to a non-factory degree.
There’s no manual transmission. Plus, you don’t get adaptive cruise control on Highlander – despite having the radar sensor for the forward collision warning and autonomous emergency brake system. Despite having adaptive cruise available on i30 SR Premium (and the diesel Premium). And you don’t get a diesel. And there’s no panorama sunroof available. And there’s no integrated, stand-alone GPS.
Let’s break down the Kona Range.
Active, Elite and Highlander in ascending order. 16, 17 and 18-inch alloys, respectively. Easiest trainspotter’s guide to the variants: Active’s don’t get the contrasting roof. Elite has 20-spoke wheels and Highlanders get five spokes. If you want to spot the variants 50 metres out, I don’t know, lasering the right one for an airstrike, that’s how you do it.
Let’s talk pricing, and this is BEFORE on-road costs. Here in ‘Straya it’s $24,500 for the base Active, and $28,000 for the Active 1.6T – and that adds the grunty engine, the dual-clutch transmission, and the all-wheel drive.
There’s a comprehensive safety pack for the Active – it’s worthwhile. You get blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection, lane-keep assist and forward warning and auto emergency braking. That’s going to cost you another $1500.
It’s another $4000 more for Elite, and another $4000 more for the Highlander. The range tops out at $36,000 for the Highlander 1.6 turbo. Premium paint is about $600 and the two-tone roof is about $300 on Elite and Highlander only.
Servicing is dirt cheap – $259 a throw. Once every 12 months or 15,000km for the 2.0 atmo Kona, or 12 months or 10,000km for the 1.6T – remember, that’s time or distance, whichever occurs first. And there’s roadside assist for 10 years, plus a solid five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres.
Active variants get the 7-inch tablet in the centre of the dash, rear camera, tyre pressure monitoring, auto headlights, cruise control, roof rails, rear parking sensors, plus Apple and Android phone integrations – and Bluetooth.
Elite gets you a splash of leather, proximity key, climate air, privacy glass in the rear, fog lights, auto wipers, and a splash of carbon grey garnish.
Highlander adds front parking sensors, LED lights front and rear, auto high beam, a head-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, a better instrument cluster, power adjustment for the front seats, a wireless phone charging pad, and a heated steering wheel.
There’s no question Kona is a high quality compact SUV – and it’s a clear winner in this segment if you want performance. The 1.6 turbo sets itself apart nicely right there. Hyundai provides excellent customer support, too – which is very reassuring.